No. 2 Alberta @ No. 9 Manitoba
Clinching first place will have to wait at least another week for the Golden Bears, as they split their weekend series in Winnipeg against the Bisons. Alberta now sits 11 points ahead of second place Manitoba, who could still technically secure top spot if the Bears drop their remaining six contests and the Herd win their remaining six contests.
Friday night, Alberta needed a big comeback to earn the victory, as they scored three unanswered third period goals including the game winner from Eric Hunter with only 39 seconds remaining to secure the 4-3 win. Hunter along with his linemates Jesse Gimblett and rookie Sean Ringrose were the catalysts for the Bears, as both Hunter and Gimblett had a goal and an assist, while Ringrose added two assists in the winning effort.
In the second game of the two game set, Manitoba this time wouldn't cough up an early two goal lead, as they came out on the winning side of another 4-3 decision. Both Ian Duval and Calin Wild had one goal, two assist efforts to lead the Bisons to their second win of the season over Alberta. With the win, the Herd handed the Bears only their second regulation loss of the season. The Bears other regulation loss of the season also came against Manitoba back on October 30 in a 3-2 decision. Chad Klassen was a man on a mission Saturday night, netting his second hat-trick of the season against the Bisons, but Klassen didn't get any scoring from his supporting cast en route to the series split.
Alberta will be looking to clinch top spot in the conference next weekend as they host Lethbridge, while Manitoba heads to Regina.
The Winnipeg Free Press also had a great feature on Bears captain Tyler Metcalfe, a Manitoba native.
Calgary @ Regina
Without question, the most surprising result of the weekend came in Regina where the Cougars played host to the Calgary Dinos. It was the Queen City crew who came out with the better effort in the Saskatchewan capital, as they handed the Dinos a pair of losses. Those losses coupled with a Saskatchewan sweep of UBC pushed the Dinos into fourth place in the conference, and Regina into sixth ahead of the T-Birds.
It was a game full of power play potency on Friday night as the two teams combined for five PP markers. Regina was 2-for-7 on the man advantage, while the Dinos went 3-for-7. It was a tight affair, as the two played 65 minutes without a winner, with a 3-3 deadlock needing a shootout to decide a winner. The skills competition went four rounds, as both teams scored on all three of their first shootout attempts, before Carter Smith scored the decisive goal in the fourth round to give Regina a 4-3 win.
Saturday night the Cougars came out looking to pick up only their second series sweep of the season, and they did just that, taking a 3-0 lead into the final frame. In the final 20 minutes the Dinos scored a pair of goals to get on the board, but the Cougars added one of their own to hold onto a 4-2 win. Ryan Sawka had a pair of markers for Regina in the win, as the Cougars all but ended any hopes the Dinos had at hosting a home playoff series.
The Cougars as mentioned above host the Bisons next weekend, while Calgary has the week off before heading to Saskatoon in two weeks time for a tough series against the Huskies.
Saskatchewan @ UBC
Coming off a pair of tough overtime losses last weekend at home against Alberta, the Saskatchewan Huskies bounced back on the road with a sweep of the UBC T-Birds in a rare set of games in Burnaby, B.C. with the T-Birds being temporarily evicted from their home as the Vancouver Olympics draw near.
It was a bust night Friday for UBC netminder Jordan White who faced 40 shots, stopping 37 of the pucks directed his way. At the other end, Jeff Harvey only had to make 15 saves in a winning effort, as his Huskies came away with a 3-2 win.
Saturday night good things came in twos for the Huskies, as they scored a pair of goals in all three periods, with Steven DaSilva and Brennan Bosch both scoring two goals each, as the Huskies doubled up the T-Birds 6-3 for the series sweep. David Reekie got the win in net for the Sled Dogs, making 29 saves for his fifth win of the season.
With the pair of wins, the Huskies crept closer to Manitoba in the CW standings after the Bisons picked up a split with Alberta. Saskatchewan now sits only a single point behind Manitoba for second place, as their Feb. 19-20 series in Saskatoon could be the determining factor in who hosts an opening round playoff series.
Both the Huskies and T-Birds are idle next week in what will be a light CW schedule with only four teams in action Feb. 5-6.